Ecotourism Spots In Charlotte
Ecotourism has become a popular way to explore and enjoy a destination. Two hours from the mountains and three to six hours from the beach, Charlotte is situated between two main tourist attractions. However, you need not stray afar from Charlotte to experience ecotourism in the Queen City.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Opened to the public in 2006, the U.S. National Whitewater Center has many different outdoor activities and is a great ecotourism destination within the Charlotte area. Visitors can raft down the man-made river and can also experience the Whitewater Center’s other activities and amenities. Located on the Catawba River, the U.S National Whitewater Center offers kayaking, hiking, biking, ropes courses and other outdoor activities. The center can be enjoyed throughout the year, but it is an especially good way to cool off in the dog days of the summer months.
Crowders Mountain State Park
Located about an hour from Charlotte in King’s Mountain, NC in Gaston County, Crowders Mountain is the ideal day hike for Charlotte visitors. Not quite the Appalachian Mountains yet, hikers at Crowders Mountain will experience the vegetation and scenery of the foothills with over 25 miles of trails. Rock climbers can enjoy the many walls and surfaces to climb and explore. Hikers can enjoy picnicking spots and even bring gear for overnight camping—if so desired. Visitors can indulge in water sports or just relaxation time near the nine-acre lake. The park is opened year-round, but hours of operation change based on season.
Need a rainy day destination for the kids? Discovery Place is a great space to explore different science exhibits and even watch the featured IMAX movie. Discovery Place puts on various shows throughout the exhibits to entertain its visitors and educate them on ecosystems, ecology, chemistry and other science-related topics. Discovery Place is extremely kid friendly with all of the interactive exhibits catering to children. After a long day of play, watching the IMAX feature film might be a necessary way to wind down and relax while learning about science or global issues.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is located just 20 minutes west of Charlotte outside the quaint town of Belmont, NC. Donated by the textile businessman Daniel Jonathan Stowe, visitors can enjoy the 400 acres of trails, gardens and the plant store. The amenities can also be used for special events, such as birthdays and weddings. Yearly membership can also be purchased for frequent visitors.
Carolina Raptor Center
Are you an animal lover? A visit to the Carolina Raptor Center is the perfect trip for visitors interested in learning more about birds of prey. Similar to rehabilitation centers at zoos, veterinarians and conservation biologists nurse these raptors back to health for hopeful release back into the wild. Visitors will get to see 25 different raptors along a forested trail at the Huntersville, NC location. The Carolina Raptor Center offers many different educational programs for schools and other special programming for interested ornithologists.
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Isabel Sepkowitz is a freelance writer. She is an environmentalist who values sustainability, education, and innovation for the emerging green economy. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.